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Oral History

John Tunney Oral History (2009), Senator, California; friend

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Young

This is an interview with John Tunney in New York on October 12, 2009. This is the second session with John Tunney, and we’ve spent a bit of time before beginning the interview reviewing some of the things that were said in the earlier interview and also discussing what might be added to that in this session. It’s not long after Senator [Edward] Kennedy’s death, and Senator Tunney, as was clear from the first interview and from others and from Ted himself, has been one of his lifelong and close friends. So, thinking about that friendship and bearing in mind that one of the purposes of this project is to let people who never knew him, people in future generations, understand what kind of person he was, and help them to see the authentic man that turned into this great historic figure, let’s begin.

Tunney

Well, professor, you’ve set it up in a very articulate fashion and I’ll do the best I can. Some of this is reprise, and I can’t remember exactly what I said in the earlier session, so if I’m too long-winded, let me know.

I met Ted Kennedy for the first time on the first day of classes in law school. I met him outside the lecture hall. He mentioned to me that my father had helped his father get a sauna at his house at the Cape. We chatted a little bit about that and then I went back to my room after classes. I called my father and I said, I met the most fantastic guy today. His name is Ted Kennedy and he says his father knows you. And my father said, Well, I know a lot of Kennedys. I said, His father’s name is Joe Kennedy and he was an Ambassador. Then that turned into, Oh, my God. Joe Kennedy, what a wonderful man he is. I like him so much. Yes, I helped him with the sauna. The contractor who put in our sauna put in Kennedy’s sauna.

Then, I guess it might have been two or three days later, I was in the library studying in the late afternoon and so was Teddy. It got around to about 6:00 and I walked over to his desk and I said, Would you like to have a bite to eat? And he said he’d love to. So we went off and had a bite to eat, and we spent about 45 minutes or so eating and talking. It became very obvious to me that this guy was somebody that I really wanted to get to know better. He was so full of fun, had a great sense of humor, but also there were so many interesting people that he knew and was talking about. We shared a lot of experiences that we’d had separately, while we were in undergraduate school. We’d traveled and met famous people, and we talked about those things with each other.

Then the same thing happened the next day. We were both studying in the library and, again, we went out and ate together. Gradually, over a period of maybe two or three weeks, we were always eating our meals together. As I recall, we were having lunch together, we were having dinner together, and on weekends we would usually take one afternoon off from studying. We were terrified that it was going to be impossible to get through the first term if we didn’t spend all of our time studying, but we did take Saturday afternoon off. We played touch football; we had some mutual friends that we would play with on a regular basis. But as I look back on that period, we had begun to share almost every meal with each other, and then shared sporting activities with each other on weekends.

At the end of that year we decided that we would room together, and we would rent a house out in the country to do it. That’s what we did. It was a nice home and it was very comfortable accommodations. Teddy had heard from his sister in-law, Jackie Kennedy, that there was a woman who worked for her that she was going to have to get rid of because there was conflict in the kitchen. She said that this woman, called Carmen, was an excellent cook and she was a very nice person, but if she was working with other people, there was a tendency for there to be friction. She thought that she would work out very well for us, as an individual. 

So we brought Carmen down there to Charlottesville and she was great. She cooked for us, she did our laundry, she cleaned the house, and I think that she enjoyed being employed by two young men. She never caused us any trouble at all. Her presence there gave us an opportunity to communicate that I had probably never had before in my education. Although I’d had roommates before, we never were able to communicate the way Teddy and I were able to communicate. We’d always come back for lunch well, first of all, we had breakfast. We’d eat breakfast together, and then we would go off to school in separate cars. We’d come back for lunch and we would talk at lunch and then go to our separate rooms. We would be studying in the afternoon. Sometimes we’d go back to the law school, but we always knew that we would be together again at dinner, with Carmen cooking for us and cleaning up, I might add. So we’d talk at dinner and then we would talk after dinner for usually one hour. We’d have a cup of coffee in the living room and talk for about an hour, and had set a schedule to go back up to our rooms to study. 

This went on throughout our second year. During that period of time, we frequently would have big arguments, really substantial arguments, usually about politics or our impressions of different people. The political arguments were usually the ones that aroused the ire. I was more of a Republican and he was a Democrat. My father we were Republicans; I had been raised as a Republican and I had been in the Political Union at Yale. I was in the Conservative Party of the Political Union. Teddy was a much more progressive guy than I was at that time, so we would argue a lot about different issues before the Congress and before the American people. Sometimes we would be talking so loudly to each other that Carmen would get terribly worried that we were mad at each other. Of course, we weren’t at all. I suppose it was just a way of arranging our ideas in a forceful fashion so that we would be able to carry the day against somebody else. But always, after these arguments ended, the point of the argument would drift into the mist and we would never talk or think about it again. And we always remained friends.

Then, in the beginning of the second yearwe have a moot court competition in Virginia that starts in the second year, and if you keep winning, you go on into the third year. Teddy asked me if I would be his partner in that and I said sure. We then joined forces as moot court partners, and it took a lot of study, a lot of brief writing, and a lot of practice. As it turned out, we won the first argument and then we won the second argument and then we won the third argument. We were advancing into the quarter finals, which surprised both of us a little bit, because we didn’t think that we would ever get that far. But we were very proud of our achievement.

We got into our third year, senior year, and we were still in the competition. We were still rooming together in a house a different house, but we were rooming together in the house. At that point, Teddy had met Joan [Bennett Kennedy] and was interested in her, and I had met the woman who became my wife, first wife, over in Holland, and I was very interested in her, so both of us were thinking about getting married. The law school was, of course, our first order of priority, so we were still living together in a house in Virginia. Again, we had somebody taking care of us so we were able to function independently of household chores and we were able to continue these discussions and dialogues. We would talk about everything. We’d talk about our families. We’d talk about our ambitions. 

In Teddy’s case, he was not 100 percent sure that he was going to go into politics. He thought about maybe buying a football team, one of the National Football League teams. He was talking to his brothers about the possibility of them going in with him, and he would be a manager. I guess he talked to his father about it. In those days it wasn’t such a big deal, because those teams were not that expensive. Today, of course, it’s a major undertaking. You’ve got to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, even a billion dollars, for a team, but in those days they were selling for much less, maybe something like eight or ten million dollars. He had a real idea of maybe going out to Arizona or out into the West, perhaps even California, and being an owner of one of those National Football League teams. Anyway, we talked about everything and shared many confidences in those days, about girls and about our studies and other things.

Teddy announced to me that he actually had set a date for his marriage, and I had told him that I was going to get married too. He got married in late November and I got married in February, in Europe. So there was a natural period where we had moved apart. He stayed in our house because he got married first. I moved out into a different house, but we’d see each other, not regularly for meals at that time, but we would see each other every weekend. We’d see each other, of course, in the study hall, when we were both there, and classes and all of that. We remained very close during that last half of our third year.

Young

Had you had any friendships such as you developed with him, earlier in your life at college?

Tunney

Not in college. I never had a friend as close as Teddy was in college, no. In boarding school, there was a man that I was very close to and who I saw a great deal of and who I really felt was a bosom buddy. But it was more, in those days, a question of not so much talking about what we were going to do after we left school, and not trying to find a common trajectory for our lives. It was more about relationships with girls, relationships

Young

Family.

Tunney

With family.

Young

Fathers.

Tunney

Fathers, yes. But with Teddy, it became very much a question of fathers. And where we had developed, if you will, the kind of dynastic sense of where we should be as a result of our total family history. At boarding school, you never talked that way. The close friend I had at boarding school, we never talked about my father’s impact on me, to have me be a successful person, or what my mother’s family had done or had not done that would influence me to be either better or worse, or whether I’d choose one career line versus another career line. With Teddy, in law school, we talked about that a great deal. We had a blowtorch at our hind quarters and we’d better make good, otherwise we would rue the day. It was sort of a fear in a way, that we wouldn’t match up to the standard that we felt had been established for us. We talked about that a great deal. 

I don’t ever remember in my other close friendship, at boarding school, that I had any conversations like that at all. That’s probably why, when I left boarding school, over the years I’ve seen practically nothing of that man who was so close to me at school. He ended up being a very important professor in the university where he taught, but from our neutral point of view, our interests had become so divergent that we just never really maintained the friendship. Although, if I ever see him—and I do see him occasionally—I have an immediate feeling of friendship. But it was very different from Teddy.

Young

I’m wondering whether this relationship with you, this friendship with you, that you developed in the course of professional training, after all, which you were undergoing, was the first for him too.

Tunney

It might very well have been that way. I think it must have been, because I never saw those people. I knew, of course, that he was close to other people that he played football with and that he had other friends.

Young

That’s true.

Tunney

But it was always a little different. I knew that, in a chemical sense, he and I had come from a common background, and that our trajectories at that stage were beginning to mesh. We were beginning to see each other as—we were, in some respects, great rivals. I mean, we played tennis against each other, we played golf, even touch football, and we would be rivals. But it was a rivalry that was always clearly focused and clearly channeled. Where a person can get to be a real rival with another man at that age is when it comes to women, girls, and Teddy and I were never rivals, head-to-head rivals, with girls, ever. If I saw the girl first, he would hang off. If he saw the girl first, I wouldn’t think of encroaching upon that. 

There was a certain amount of probably self-actualized wisdom in my case, because Teddy was so good looking and he was such a charming guy, becoming a rival of his, I’m sure I would have thought, My God, I’ll never win out on this one. But I didn’t really think of it that way. I just looked at it as being, this was his territory, and he did the same with me. So we never had rivalries as far as girls were concerned, despite the fact that he had some very attractive girls that he was going out with, and I had some too, but we never had that meshing of gears in a way that could create sparks. We had nothing but respect in that regard. 

At that point, everything that he did, he would always invite me to do with him, and I would always invite him to be with me. We’d spend Christmas vacations together, summer vacations, we spent Easter vacations, all the vacations were together. We might spend a day or two with our families but then we’d be together. We’d figure out a way that we could spend the holiday together and do things. We did a lot of traveling together. We went to Europe, we went to ski expeditions up in Canada. Well, my gosh, all over. We’d go to Florida. We had many places during holidays where we would have an opportunity to be together and do things.

But then Teddy got married and I was married, so there was a change, to a degree, in the ability to have the same kind of contact, but we were always on the phone with each other or talking about things. Then I had to go into the Air Force; he had already done the service. He was getting ready to run for the Senate. He called me and asked if I’d like to go to Latin America with him. He said he was going to go with a Harvard professor and a biographer called Bela Kornitzer, who was thinking of writing a biography about the three Kennedy boys, and Claude Hooton. He said he was going to invite them to come down and he said, Would you like to come along? I said, Well, I have to get leave from my base to do it. I had an annualized right to leave, so I did take a leave and I went down there for three weeks with Teddy, to Latin America, Mexico, Central America, the northern part of South America, and Brazil. My time was running out. He was going to take about a week longer, ten days longer. 

I left, and I came back and wrote articles about my trip, with the idea of giving speeches in southern California. I was stationed in Riverside County. Teddy went back and was giving speeches all over Massachusetts on his trip. I wrote articles and he wrote articles, and we shared those articles after we’d written them, and both of them were produced in newspapers. In my case, I gave 75 speeches, at least, in what became my district, to various service clubs, like the Lions, the Kiwanis, Elks, and things like that. Of course, he was doing the same thing in Massachusetts, on a larger stage at the time, with the idea that he might be a Senatorial candidate. He did announce for the Senate, and he did run and he won. That was in 1962.

I got out of the service in 1963, and just as I was getting ready to leave the service, he called me and said Bobby [Kennedy] had a place for me in the Justice Department. He said, You’ve got to come back. It will be so great back here. When you’re here, we can do so many things together. I said, Teddy, I would love to do it. But I’m going to run for Congress out here. I’ve decided I’m going to run for Congress. He said, What? I said, Yes, I’m going to run for Congress. He said, Oh, my God. Well, if you’re going to run for Congress, you’ve got to come back here and learn something about what’s going on here. I told him I agreed with him and he said, As soon as you get out, please come back. So I did, I went back after I got out of the Air Force.

He invited me and my former wife to come to the White House. He said, You’ll get an invitation. My wife was Dutch and a princess, Mieke Sprengers Tunney. She became queen, so she’s now the Queen of Holland, and she’d been invited by President [John] Kennedy, to come to a state luncheon, so we were invited back to that. That was great fun. That was the first time I’d ever been to the White House. I got to eat dinner with the President, it was great. I’d gotten to know President Kennedy a little bit because he’d come down and visit Teddy and me in Charlottesville when we were students. He came down with Jackie in our second year and spent the weekend with us. Then we had come up on a number of occasions, about maybe three or four occasions, to visit them in their home in Georgetown. 

Also at law school during that period, I got to know Bobby very well, because Teddy and I frequently went up and spent the weekend with Bobby and Ethel [Skakel Kennedy], in McLean. One time he even flew me up. He had gotten his pilot’s license and he flew me up in a single-engine plane. I’ll never forget that experience. I’ve never been more terrified in my life as when we came into National Airport and they told us to follow a Colonial airline into the airport landing strip. I point up at the plane and said, Ted, is that the one up there? He said, I think that’s it. So that plane goes in and we start coming in after that plane. The ground controller said—I think we were in a CessnaCessna, Cessna, get out of there, get out of there! Hard left! And so we take a hard left and I look behind me and there is a four-engine plane coming in. There was a United plane on our tail. So we move around and then go back. It was one of the more terrifying experiences in my life, but Ted was full of enthusiasm and he didn’t appear afraid at all. We got out of the way, we landed, and then we flew back the next day.

Young

I bet he just laughed about it.

Tunney

He laughed, we were laughing about it. It was just incredible. But that was the way it always was with him and with me. I wasn’t going to tell him I was afraid to fly with him. I just studiously avoided it. [laughs] I always had a reason not to be there the next time. But we were—it was just another one of those frolics that we were involved in.

Anyway, getting back to the point. During the time that he was running I mean, he had won and I was getting ready to run—he insisted that I come back, and I did come back. He set up meetings for me all over Capitol Hill, to meet with Congressmen, to meet with Senators, and I even got advice from the White House, people who worked at the White House, like Larry O’Brien and Kenny O’Donnell, about the way I should lay out my campaign. It was invaluable, absolutely invaluable. I went back to California with a very clear idea of what I had to do. 

Bobby was helpful because he was the Attorney General. I went over to see him and he said, You’ve got to have something going for you, that you can speak about, between now and the time that you actually run. I said I know, and he said, Well, Teddy wants me to do everything I can to help you, so please, what can I do? I said, I’m very interested in juvenile delinquency and youth crime. He said, I’ve got a perfect thing. I’ll put you on the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime Commission; you’ll be a special advisor to the Commission. We’ll give you plenty of material to read and you can then use that as a base for speaking around your district. So I officially was made a special advisor to the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime Commission, which was all of Teddy’s doing. Bobby did it, but Teddy had talked with him privately about making sure that I got this information and this appointment.

And then, about four or five months later, he asked how things were coming and I told him we were getting ready to announce the campaign. He said, Do you really have your program set up to run the campaign? I said, Well, not really. I’m doing the best I can. I’ve never done it before. He said, You’ve got to do more than just read books. You’ve got to talk to people who could really do it for you. So he paid for three people who were very knowledgeable, down-to-earth politicians from Massachusetts, to come out and visit with me. They came to the state and they met with me and my brother Gene [Tunney], who was my campaign manager, and one or two other people who I had enlisted to be working on the campaign with me. He got them up to speed on everything that we needed to do to lay out a campaign. It was invaluable. I can say, as I look back on it, it was a real turning point in my career, because without that information I probably never would have been able to put together the kind of professional campaign that I did. I put together a very professional campaign, but the outline of it and a lot of the detail of it was a result of Ted’s professional people having come to help.

Young

Was Eddie Martin one of them?

Tunney

Eddie Martin was one of them. Eddie came with another guy, and then there was another guy called Eddie Moss.

Young

Oh, yes.

Tunney

Those three guys came down and they spent about two or three days with us. We were working six, seven hours, eight hours a day. They just gave us the strategy as to how to do it. The mechanics, not the issues, but the mechanics of how to do it. How to set up a campaign organization, with the coffee klatches, and how to target the precincts and which precincts to go after. It was really retail politics, right down at the grassroots level. They helped us with the organization, how to spend our money, going out and meeting with a newspaper editor, meeting with the radio stations and the news directors, things of that kind, all of which were invaluable to us as we got started in the campaign. That was, of course, Teddy’s doing. I could have never done it without it.

And then, when my campaign actually started, he insisted that he wanted to be there for the kickoff, to give us some publicity. He was a young Senator, but his brother, in the meantime, had been assassinated, so there was a huge amount of national publicity for anything that Teddy Kennedy did. So when he came out to campaign for me in January of 1964, we got a tremendous amount of publicity. And again, this was all his doing. I mean, it was not my begging him to do it, it was just he wanted to do it. He wanted to do everything he could for me. His sister, Pat [Patricia Kennedy] Lawford, came out and campaigned for me. So it was really quite a remarkable early part of my political career, that I had Teddy’s support and his friendship, and going way beyond what you would ever expect a colleague to do. It was based on friendship, and his reaching out to help a friend. That was a characteristic quality of him, right from the very beginning. He always wanted to do things to help his friends. I could give you many examples of it, and it goes right from the time that we first got to know each other in school. He was always so thoughtful. That is about the best way to put it; he was very thoughtful of the feelings of other people.

Young

And he didn’t wait to be asked.

Tunney

He didn’t wait to be asked.

Young

He saw the need.

Tunney

He saw the need and he did it. He just volunteered these things. You’ve got to do that, you’ve got to have this, and I’ll help you do that, you’ve got to do this. At any rate, I get back to Washington after having won, and the first thing he said was, You’ve got to come down to Florida. We’re going to go down to Florida and we’ll have a chance to be together for a week or two before you get back to Washington. So my former wife and I go down there with Joan and Teddy, and we spend a week to ten days with him. I think it was a week down there, playing tennis, sailing, doing all the things that you do in Florida.

When I got up to D.C. [District of Columbia], of course he was inviting me to his house all the time. As a result of him, I was being invited to be with the Robert Kennedys all the time. So it moved my former wife and me immediately into a social circle that we would not have had, if it hadn’t been for Teddy having projected us in there immediately. I was a young Congressman. All of a sudden I was accepted by all these people who had been great friends of the Kennedy administration. I had a chance to experience, as a result of dinner parties and luncheons and things of that nature, things that young Congressmen never really got to see. 

I have to tell you, this was with the people who were big-time power brokers in Washington during John Kennedy’s administration. Of course, many of them had left the [Lyndon] Johnson administration, but they were still in Washington and they still had very great influence. So I got to know them all on a first-name basis. That was a very important thing for me because, although I was then just a newly elected Congressman, I had already begun to set my sights on running for the Senate. The more I interacted with these people who had been at the very highest levels of government, some of whom still were there, the more feedback I got for what could be a future run for the Senate. You can imagine how important that was for me, and that was, again, an example of Teddy just reaching out and doing whatever he could for me. 

We saw each other during that period of time almost every day, although we were in different Houses. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. We’d see each other two or three times a week, but we’d always see each other on weekends. His son was my godson. My oldest son, who is his son’s age, was his godson, so the families always were together. There was never any question that on weekends, we’d always be out at Kennedy’s house or we’d be doing—he had a tennis court at his place, which was very important. He had also a pool. I was living in Tracy Place, which is, by the way, only about three or four houses from where he lives now, but in those days, I didn’t have a tennis court and I obviously didn’t have a pool, those were small homes on Tracy Place, so we’d always go out to Teddy’s place to play touch football or to play tennis or play whatever it was we were doing. 

That continued during my House career, and then I decided to run for the Senate. Although I did not have Teddy’s help in the direct sense, of his making public appearances for me in California, I always had his support and his ideas about how we should move forward on our campaign. But by that time, I was a full-fledged politician myself. I had been in the Congress for almost five years, and I knew exactly what I was doing and I had very good professional help working with me. But as a friend, Teddy was always there to give advice or to pep me up if things weren’t going as well as I would like.

Then, of course, I won the Senate seat and again, we came into direct contact with each other all the time because we were on the Senate floor. We’d go down to the steam room together and the gym, we’d play tennis together, and took trips together. We took many trips together. When I was in the House, we took four or five trips overseas. We went to Vietnam together. We went to the Middle East together. We met [Gamal Abdel] Nasser together, we met  Hussein [bin Talal]  together, we met [Levi] Eshkol, the Prime Minister of Israel together. We were taking many trips.

Young

Were these trips all pleasure trips?

Tunney

They were work trips.

Young

Work trips.

Tunney

Vietnam was not a pleasure trip.

Young

Well, no, but I mean—

Tunney

And going across North Africa, that was not a pleasure trip either. It was extremely interesting. It was a long trip; it lasted about three weeks. He and I both paid for it out of our own pockets, but it was a trip that we’d meet with the Ambassador and the Ambassador would set up a schedule for us in the country. Because it was Kennedy, we were able to get to see the heads of state everywhere we went, which was a great benefit to me. Not a direct benefit in my being able to have a better chance of winning the Senate seat, but there was a great benefit to me personally just to have that experience, to know all of those men, like Gamal Nasser. That was an interesting meeting that we had with him. It was interesting to meet with [Habib] Bourguiba, the President of Tunisia. It was interesting to be invited by King Hussein to have dinner with him. Then he invited us to what I think they call a fantasia, out by the Dead Sea, the next day, where tents were set up and horsemen were riding in colorful costumes. Then the King, personally, flew Ted and me on a helicopter around the city of Jerusalem, very carefully not going over to the Israeli side, but around the city, the West Bank, which was then Jordanian, and over Bethlehem. We landed on the Mount of Olives, the King got in the plane, and Teddy and I walked to the Lion’s Gate. 

Those were wonderful experiences that we had together in a professional way. And we would do ski trips together in the wintertime. We went to Gstaad in early ’72, where—my marriage had already fallen apart and my wife was anxious to get a divorce. She met somebody else that she felt could give her more attention, I guess, than I was giving her. I was a politician. So, we were in Gstaad and I met my future wife on that ski trip, although we didn’t get married until four years later. I didn’t see her for three years after that first meeting, but at least we met and I had that opportunity to get to know her in a very fun and relaxed circumstance. Then, through the ’70s, we were very close. 

I should say this about us in the Senate. There were a number of occasions where we did not see eye to eye on issues. It didn’t stop us from articulating our views. Teddy had his own—I mean, he had a big operation, so he wasn’t going to change his views and I certainly wasn’t going to change my views. We did have some, I guess you’d call it dust ups, but never between us. He recognized that I had my views. I said, in 1975, that I didn’t think we could afford the Kennedy health plan, and he called me up and said, You’re going to get really banged badly by the left wing of our party and labor unions and civil groups. Are you sure you want to stick with that position? And I said, Yes, I do. I do want to stick with it because I believe it. I don’t think we can afford it, Teddy. And we never mentioned it again. 

One day, I guess maybe it was even in 1976, I got a call that the most important guy in Hollywood wanted to speak to me. He owned a studio and his name was Lou Wasserman. Lou said, John, Kennedy has introduced an amendment, a Finance Committee bill, to take away the investment tax credit from the movie industry, from the studios. You know that will kill us. That’s $500 million to us. You’ve got to stop him. I said, [Alan] Cranston’s back there, Lou. I’ll come back and vote if I have to, but I can’t be leading the fight against that. He said, You have to. Cranston says that the only person that can beat Kennedy is you. 

The reason he said that was because there were about six or seven freshmen Senators who I knew very well and had great companionship with, which Cranston did not have, so Lou thought that I could convince them to vote against the Kennedy amendment. I never talked to Teddy about it, but I said to Lou, Are you really insisting that I do this? It’s really harmful to me. He said, We’ve been very good to you, our industry has been very good to you, and we want you to go back there and fight this. I said OK. So I changed my program and flew back and got out onto the floor, and the Kennedy amendment was coming up. And Russell Long said to me—he had already been briefed about itJohn, you’ve got to take this on. You’re going to lead the fight against this. So Teddy gives his statement and then I get up and I give my statement. I can tell, I’d heard that it was going to be very close. 

Sure enough, when the first count comes, we came out about two or three votes behind. I go into the well and I get Lawton Chiles, who had voted for the Kennedy amendment. I said, Lawton, you can’t do this to me. I’m up for reelection, you cannot do this to me. I spoke to three or four of the guys in my freshman class. Now, we’ve been there for five years, but we were still considered freshmen in a way, first termers. I got them to change their vote, so we beat Kennedy by one or two votes. Teddy and I never talked about it. I never gloated that I beat him, he never said anything to me about the fact that I had beaten him, and most importantly, he never said anything to me about the amendment that he had offered, which was going to kill me, in my district, in my state. I never talked to him about that. 

It was just one of those things that we accepted from a professional point of view, that he had to do his thing and I had to do my thing, and that was the way we did it. So there was a lot of personal respect that developed as a result of those kinds of things happening. This was not just made-up stuff, this was pretty serious stuff. When you talk about coming out against his health bill and then his coming out against my important industry of entertainment, that’s big-time stuff. Yet, it never had any effect at all on our relationship. If anything, I suppose, it was an amusing anecdote that I could tell at fund-raisers and get some laughs.

Then I ran for reelection and I lost. The next night, I was up in Tahoe with my present wife. We weren’t married then, but I was up in Tahoe trying to recover from the shock of having lost, and I had thought for sure I was going to win. Without my knowing about it, who should show up on our doorstep but Teddy Kennedy? He’d just won his reelection, but he came out to commiserate with me about my losing, a show of friendship and such.

Young

What year was that now?

Tunney

That was 1976. And then the question was whether I would stay in Washington or leave. It was really not much of a question for me because the answer was implicit in my own personality, and that is that I could not stay in Washington and be a lobbyist lawyer. I had to go back to California. That was where I came from and that was where I’d made my home, and that was going to be where I was going to stay. It hurt in a way because I was so fond of Ted and he was so important in my life on a regular basis, it was clear. 

Well, the only thing I can say is Kathinka [Tunney] and I, when we were going together she came over from Europe to be with me, she’s European. She came over to be with me about a year and a half before the election. We used to take trips with Teddy, so many different places. We’d go out on his boat and sail, and we did many things together. I think that it would have been a wonderful thing, as I look back on it, if we had been able to spend more time together after that first election defeat, but I just knew I couldn’t do it. My soul told me that I had to have independence. It was one thing to be doing things every day with him when I was a Senator and we were co-equals, but it was another thing to be out there practicing law and knowing that I would be expected, by any future client, to use the Kennedy office as a subheadquarters of my own office. I just couldn’t do it.

Anyway, we retained that very close friendship. We’d see Teddy an awful lot. Even though I was living in California, I was coming back to the East Coast a great deal. My mother and father were still alive, so I was coming back and forth to the East Coast frequently and saw Teddy a lot. We always would stay with him. And I went back there and I lost, a little bit, some of the friendships that I had of other people who were good pals, because whenever I came to town, I was always with Teddy. And then he began to get into, as we all know, some problems in his private life.

Young

His marriage was falling apart.

Tunney

Gone, fallen apart. It had fallen apart.

Young

And he had also had Bobby’s assassination and he lost the Whip position to [Robert] Byrd.

Tunney

That’s right. That was in 1971 that he lost that, so he’d lost that a long time before.

Young

Chappaquiddick in ’69.

Tunney

Chappaquiddick had come before too. By the way, I was campaigning for the Senate in 1969 I think it was ’69, wasn’t it?and I had seen Ted in Washington and he said, You’ve got to come up to Chappaquiddick with me a couple weekends from now. I asked why and he said, We’re going to race. It’s so much fun. You’ll have a great time. We’ll have a wonderful time. I said, I’d love to do it but I’ve got to go out and campaign for the Senate, I’m sorry. I’ve got a big fund-raiser out there. Then I said, I’d love to do it; let’s take a rain check on it, but I just can’t do this one. So I’m out there speaking and I get a call from Pat Lawford. She said, Your best friend is in terrible trouble. I said, What’s happened? And she said, He’s had a terrible accident and you’d better come back right now. You’ve got to get back here with him. So I jumped on a plane, came back, and I went to the house. He was at Squaw Island at the time. I stayed with him for the next three or four days. That was a terrible time. I was able to chat with him and talk to him and console him to the best of my ability, and to try and help him work things out in his own mind. 

When I saw him, it was shortly after the accident. I think it was probably within 24 hours of the accident, so he was still pretty badly shaken up and emotional about it. But right from the very beginning, he told me, I have a point of view of the morality of her death. I don’t feel guilty. It was a terrible thing. I shouldn’t have been there. I shouldn’t have been in a car when I’ve had a few drinks. I tried to save her but I couldn’t. I tried to dive down and I couldn’t. I almost drowned myself. I had water in my lungs. I didn’t see her and I thought she had gotten out. And he said, Obviously, I can be faulted terribly from a judgment point of view, but from the point of view of was it a killing, absolutely not. It was an accident. He really strongly felt that, right from the very beginning. And I know he would have told me the absolute truth at that time. I just know he would have. Who else was he going to tell it to if he wasn’t going to tell it to me? 

His relationship with Joan was terrible at the time. I knew that as bad an accident as this, at that time, it was one of those awful judgments that he displayed. It was not a thing that showed moral culpability. I think it was stupid, but remember, he had a blow to his head that had created a concussion, and when he came to, he was under water, upside down, with bubbles coming around him. He obviously had a certain animalistic fear of death. So when he had gotten out of the car, which was a real miracle, frankly, and he came to the surface, he had already inhaled some water. Then when he tried to dive down again to save—he didn’t even know that she was not out. He hoped that she was out, but when he tried to dive down, the headlights were still on and the water was dark as hell. He couldn’t get more than two or three feet below the water because physically, his lungs reacted and he just couldn’t do it. So then he went back up to the house and he was very badly advised by others who had probably had too many drinks as well. So everything fell apart over the next several hours.

I will only say that I’ve always thought, and my instinct now is, that this was a terrible accident. I know that he was telling the truth when he said that he’d never had any kind of a sexual relationship with that girl. It’s so sad. It was so sad that he didn’t have somebody at that party to say we’ve got to get hold of the police immediately. So that’s what can happen to you in life. 

Young

He didn’t have a real friend there.

Tunney

He didn’t have a real friend there. He didn’t have a friend who would stand up to him and say you’ve got to do it. That was the tragedy of it. All the people there were dependent upon him in one form or another. Probably one of the reasons that our friendship—I’ve already mentioned this to you—was able to survive was because I was not dependent upon him. I’ve indicated to you how deeply I appreciated the things that he did for me, and he did many things for me, but I was independent. I was my own man. If I disagreed with him, I disagreed with him and I did what I thought was the right thing. Despite the power of his personality and the many times that he requested that I do things, like stay in Washington after I left the Senate so we’d be able to be around each other a lot, or when I got out of the service and he asked me to come back to work in Bobby’s office in the Justice Department, I made decisions that I thought were right for me and for my family. He appreciated that independence and knew that I had that kind of pride. 

Also, one other thing that was part of it, my family had an island up in Maine, and we still have it, where for 30 years, Teddy used to come and visit in the summertime. That was our summer point of rendezvous. Towards the end, he would come up in his boat. But all of that also changed when he got married to Vicki [Reggie Kennedy]. Not the first two or three years, but after that she wanted Teddy to have his fun in places where there was no history and where there were their friends, not he’s there with his friends. I understood that. That may sound strange to you, Jim, but I understood it. I realized why that was necessary. 

I didn’t like it. It made me sad at first, angry at first, but after a while, I couldn’t have cared less. I would have enjoyed it if he could have come, but I no longer had any hurt feelings, because I realized that she had to do what she had to do, and he had to do what he had to do with her to make it work. So it was very easy for me to accept the reality of that changed condition. I had to do what I had to do when I went out to California with my wife, Kathinka, because I knew I couldn’t subject her to a situation in Washington where we were dependent upon a friend for our social life, or for a good part of our social life. Everybody does what they have to do, and you have to be respectful of what their judgments are for themselves. That’s why I say I’m respectful of—even though Vicki did not ask me to speak, and it would have been normal for her to have asked me to speak, because I was—

Young

This was at the memorial.

Tunney

This is at the memorial, because I was a Senator and I was obviously an intimate friend. It was her decision that it would be best not to have me speak, from her point of view, and I can understand that. That’s just the way it is; life is that way. People have to have an understanding of other people’s motivations, and she was the person who was leading the choir at that point. She was the one who needed to have the benefit of the condolences that were being publicly expressed. I think she put together a great team of people to do it, many of whom did not know Teddy at all, but that was what she felt that she needed. She probably was right. As I look back on it, I’m saying yes.

I had my experience of saying farewell the last time I saw him on the Cape, when we spent two days with him. I was with him maybe for three or four hours over those two days, alone, and talking. And I know—

Young

This was in?

Tunney

In August of 2009, when we had this opportunity to be together and talk. I knew that my presence was, from the perspective of the established rules that had been laid down for visitation, probably not what was expected and wanted. But on the other hand, Teddy wanted it and I wanted it. We had a very good opportunity to talk to each other and to communicate in ways that were impossible in a more public setting. So that’s where I got my condolences in, and I didn’t need to do it in a public setting.

If you’re a true friend, one of the things that you learn is that you don’t do things necessarily for public display, but you do things for a private connection, a realization or an actualization of what friendship is all about. That is the communion of two spirits. So I was able to do that, and I’m very happy that I had that opportunity. I think that the way that the funeral went was brilliant. I think the way that the wake before went, the speakers who were there all did a wonderful job, and I think that the service and the feeling that people had during the course of that service was totally outstanding. It was a service that meant a great deal to me. I hate funerals, but if you have to have them, and I think you do, it’s a great service that he had and a wonderful way to commemorate a brilliant career.

Young

Where was he headed during the ’80s, before he met Vicki? His marriage had already fallen apart, he got divorced in the ’80s. The day of the liberal arc seemed to be over, [Ronald] Reagan was in power, the conservatives were organizing. He found himself in the minority for the first time. It’s kind of puzzling, because in some ways, it looks as though he threw himself more into getting things done against the odds, and he did get quite a few things done.

Tunney

Unbelievably so.

Young

Yes. On the other hand, if you don’t look at that, it looks like his career—and I think he himself thought his career, or maybe himself, was losing spirit. I do not know. Until he married Vicki in ’92, but then there was that challenge of the [Mitt] Romney campaign in ’94.

Tunney

Well, I think a couple of things about that. I think that Teddy weathered Jack’s assassination really quite well, as I look back on it, because Bobby was there. I think that he looked upon Jack’s assassination as a great tragedy for the family and for him personally, but he always had Bobby there, an older brother who, let’s face it, was a take-charge person and who was capable of navigating through the emotional waters of the family in a way that added vast stature to his life and to his career. Bobby Kennedy was a much greater man in 1968 than he had been in 1962, even though he had been the Attorney General in 1962, and that he’d been a very good Attorney General, he didn’t have the ethos in ’62 that he had in ’68, at the time that he was assassinated. Bobby Kennedy, in ’68, was a colossal human being, and I think that Teddy felt great comfort, quite frankly, in knowing that Bobby was there, the head of the family, and he didn’t have to assume that role. He could be just good old Teddy, fun, laughter, whatever, after he got over the shock of his brother being killed.

Bobby’s death was really a huge impact, negative impact, on Teddy. Number one, the anguish of having him gone, both brothers assassinated, also made him feel that he was probably next in line to be assassinated, and what the hell was this life all about anyway? It was so unfair. It was so terrible that two men who had done so much, or attempted to do so much, for the country should be wiped out by what would have to be looked upon as an almost chaotic, undisciplined turn of events. It was totally unpredictable. And that people like that are out there, they’re probably going to get me too. I think that that led, to some extent, to some of the lack of care in his personal life that led to serious consequences. 

I happen to believe that Chappaquiddick was a direct result of what happened to Bobby a year earlier. To me, it’s so obvious. I was very worried about Teddy when I saw him shortly before Chappaquiddick. I could tell that there was a wildness in his brain and although he was still performing very well as a Senator, getting legislation introduced and legislation heard and legislation passed, but there was kind of a wildness there that was almost a flaunting of rules of the game, so to speak, because he was so angry. There was an anger that he felt about the unfairness of the way his brothers had been gunned down. I think that the Chappaquiddick thing added colossally to this sense that not only was he on the wrong side of destiny, but he began to question where he was in this world, where he had set out to achieve such wonderful things, bold, courageous things in public life, and all of a sudden he is looked upon as being something quite different from that. 

And then one thing continued to go into another. He ended up in that terrible situation with Willy Smith down in Florida, which was just another—not that he was responsible for Willy’s actions, but he was there, and from the public perspective, he had not prevented something like that from happening by not being with Willy. Or if he had been with Willy at that bar, having brought him home rather than letting him do what he was going to do out on the front lawn. So there was really an ever-increasing sense of despair on his part, despite his good humor, which continued to a great extent, and his continuing acts of generosity and the marvelous work that he was still doing in the Senate. I think there was a note of despair in his psyche that maybe somehow I’ve gotten onto the wrong train and I’m heading down a road that’s going to end up in catastrophe, either being perhaps eliminated by some wild man who wants to take out the third Kennedy boy, or just self-destruction. 

I think that Vicki represented for him a way out, a way to suddenly have hope again that he could pull his life together in a complete way. By life, I don’t mean his professional life, his political life, but I’m talking about his personal life as well. You have to have the two integrated to do a good job. I think that she represented that for him, and I think that that relationship, that love that developed between him and her, was a much more mature feeling than the love that he might have had for others prior to that, when it was more fun and games rather than a sense of developing a life together, in which both of them could achieve what they needed in that life.

Young

His reputation during that period was carousing, womanizing, drinking too much. Of course, that’s what makes the gossip circuits.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

It was beginning to be serious enough, in the eyes of some of his colleagues in Washington, that they talked to him about it. It’s a period of continuing accomplishment in politics and a period of something else.

Tunney

Well, that’s right.

Young

I’ve looked at what he had done, tried to look at his activities from the time that Bobby was killed, to Chappaquiddick, what he was doing that year once he got back to the Senate. He was driving himself beyond what I think was any human endurance, picking up Bobby’s pieces, going everywhere, going on that Alaska trip, climbing mountains, working with the Indians. His schedule was just—and travel.

Tunney

Crazy.

Young

He was just in a frenzy. When he was going up to the Regatta, he took the plane up with [Thomas] Tip O’Neill and he told Tip, I have never been so tired in my life. So he was driving himself in ways that… That’s what I’m getting at. I talked to him about this.

Tunney

Yes.

Young

He would not acknowledge that’s what it was. I said, My wife’s an anthropologist and there’s something in other societies that’s called grief work, and I’m wondering… He said, What was that again? I said, Grief work. It’s all kinds of work you do. It’s a form of grieving but it’s not actual grieving, it’s grief work. It’s interesting.

Tunney

Well, I don’t think there’s any question about it. There’s no question in my mind that that’s exactly right. And also, the fear of the randomness of life’s ending. I think he thought that there was—we took a trip shortly after Bobby was assassinated. I was with him at the time that Bobby died and shortly thereafter. We took a trip together, and I could tell that this grief that he felt, which he hid pretty well from the public, was just extraordinary and very, in a way, emotionally self-destructive. I think he really thought that he was going to get his too, and this was—it wasn’t fear. It was a sense of the futility of what was going on in his life. What had happened to Bobby and Jack, after having contributed so much, suddenly they were gone because of a crazed act of a madman or person who was psychotic.

Young

Was it a loss of faith?

Tunney

I think it was not—well, he was always a Catholic. I don’t think he lost faith in Jesus Christ and the religion, but I think he lost faith in the ability of humankind to control their baser instincts and to preserve the lives of people who are trying to make a contribution for the benefit of all of mankind. I think he personalized it very much with both Jack and Bobby and himself. I think he really thought there was a very good chance he was going to be killed. Once that happens, then other thoughts begin to be triggered in your mind and you begin to perhaps not want to play by the rules of the society in the same way that you did before. It wasn’t until Vicki came along in his life that he suddenly came back to his beginnings, which were a very strong sense of duty and responsibility.

Young

I was just wondering: he found her. Was it that way? Or did she find him, or was it both?

Tunney

Well, she was there. I wouldn’t put it that one found the other. I would say that she was there with a long history of being in love with him. She adored him from a distance. She didn’t know him that well, but her father knew Teddy pretty well. In those days, they weren’t intimate, but they were friendly, very friendly. Vicki obviously had a bad marriage and she was divorced. She’s attractive looking and she’s smart as hell and she’s got a very lovely way of emoting and facilitating conversation, and she’s warm. I think that Teddy, who was definitely looking for a sea anchor to windward, and all of a sudden, the radar, which was operating all the time, suddenly begins to focus on what seems to be some stability, a person who is very attractive physically, a person who has warm feelings, able to express herself in a very warm, open way, and suddenly there it is.

Young

And a person who is politically savvy.

Tunney

Savvy as hell.

Young

Very savvy.

Tunney

That’s right, and politically very savvy, and who loves politics.

Young

Who loves politics and has opinions of her own. So it struck me as a partnership.

Tunney

That’s right, of course it was. It was a partnership in that way, but I’m sure there was a romantic side too.

Young

Oh, yes, that’s evident.

Tunney

A very important romantic side to it. So it really was the right thing for him at the right time. If it had come about ten years earlier, it might not have been there; you see, his radar may not have been turned on. The radar really turned on at that point, because he was politically one of the smartest men that I’ve ever met, and I’ve met a lot of the smart ones. He had a terrific political sense and he had to know that he was heading into the seas between Scylla and Charybdis and that those clashing rocks were probably going to sink him if he didn’t get some change of focus and direction. It’s the kind of thing that no man could ever really get him to do. I don’t think even his father could have gotten him to do it. I don’t think Bobby or Jack could have gotten him to do it if they had been alive. I think it took a woman to do it. And it didn’t take his mother, it took a woman. Not his sister, it took a woman like Vicki to do it. She was there and she loved him and she obviously gave him the sense that she loved him and was there for him in every way. And he reacted to it very positively. 

I’ve said to you and I’ve said it to others, it was the best thing that could have happened to him at that point in his life. I think that she deserves a huge amount of credit for having given him the stability and the constancy and the love that he needed to bring him through this extraordinary period of what I call minor despair. It wasn’t major despair because if it had been major despair, it could have killed him. But it was a minor despair that he had to come to grips with himself and his life, and he did when he had her at his side. You can say it’s a great American love story. It’s quite an extraordinary thing. I can see that if you take the names out, you could make a wonderful movie out of it.

Young

That may happen anyway some day.

Tunney

Well, it may happen but I hope they don’t do it too soon. It ought to be done many years from now, when all the personalities are gone. It’s like writing about Thomas Jefferson or George Washington. Maybe not going back quite that far, but go back 75 or 100 years and pick up on the story that has a great romantic flavor to it. If the people are living, it’s never quite as romantic, is it? It doesn’t have the same quality to it, but it does have the makings of it. I can see where you could write a very beautiful love story there, and it would be an honest story, because it’s true. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it that she had given him exactly what he needed at the time. 

I believe he gave to her what she needed too, by the way. It’s not just one way. I think that Vicki desperately needed a guy like Teddy, because here she was divorced, her husband was not being very kind to her, and she was being marginalized, and she hated that. So all of a sudden, he gave her the opportunity to be a very significant figure in history, and she gave him the opportunity to develop once again the characteristics of strength and leadership and what I would call a very positive interaction between his personal life and his public life, which led to, I think, the iconic stature that he now has.

Young

Which strikes me as so different from his first marriage.

Tunney

Yes, that was very sad. I knew Joan very well. I knew Joan before Teddy did. She was such a sweet girl, but totally incapable of being a Kennedy. You have to have stronger mettle than she had, which doesn’t mean that in her fragility as a human being she wasn’t a lovely human being, because she was. She was a lovely human being, but she was very fragile and she also had this terrible disease called alcoholism. And the two feedback loops of insecurity, fragility and booze, just brought her right down. You could say Teddy was responsible for that. No, I don’t think Teddy was responsible for it. Maybe if she had been stronger, she could have been able to not only overcome that but change Teddy. You know?

Young

And that she couldn’t do.

Tunney

She couldn’t. She couldn’t do it, I don’t think she could. But she is a lovely person. Joan is a lovely person. I knew her when I was at Yale. She was about two years younger than me. She went out with a person who I knew very well at Yale, who I shared a relationship with at St. Anthony Hall, where I was a member. This guy was a year behind me and he was a member. I used to see Joan come to the hall on several occasions. I was very smitten by her graciousness, her gentleness, her beauty, of course. It was sad because when she got into that Kennedy celebrity environment, it just crushed her. Was it the Kennedys’ fault? No. They are what they are. Was it Joanie’s fault? No. She didn’t know what she was getting into, and she—I think when she first got to meet Teddy, she fantasized and projected it onto a screen, things that Teddy wasn’t, things that he couldn’t be, and a lifestyle that was out of a romantic Hollywood movie and not the way that life really is. Life in politics is very tough. Just like the way life in big business is tough, life in academia is tough. You have to have sharp elbows sometimes. [laughs]

Young

But maybe he didn’t need the kind of love until terrible things began to happen in his life.

Tunney

I think you’re so right.

Young

And now, he came to—he needed it, I think, after his brother’s death, Bobby’s. He needed it after Chappaquiddick.

Tunney

After Will Smith too.

Young

After Willy Smith and after Teddy’s [Edward Kennedy, Jr.] cancer.

Tunney

That was earlier though, but he was still riding exceedingly high in his own self-estimation at that time. Of course, it was a tragedy for the family, a tragedy for him, a tragedy for Teddy, young Teddy, but Kennedy himself was, as in the public persona, he was riding very high. But you take Jack’s death and then Bobby’s death and then Chappaquiddick, and then you have this Will Smith thing happen, which had nothing to do with Teddy, except that he was in proximity, and that was—

Young

That was a decade later.

Tunney

I know.

Young

And then there was all this—

Tunney

But in the meantime, there was a lot of stuff slowly eating away at his reputation. You know that and I know it. I’m not going to get into it, but if you look at the facts, that’s the case. I think that the Will Smith thing was almost a final nail that was going into what I perceived to be a very bad time for him in his chosen profession of politics. I think that that was really terrible for him. I was so angry at various people who wrote mean things about him during that time. As a matter of fact, I responded to one of them in a very strong way, who I had some relationship with, and I wrote what I consider to be one of the best letters I’ve ever written. I told this person that I was shocked by the level of hypocrisy and the way that he so falsified Teddy to create some melodrama in his column. He never answered me, this guy, and I’m not going to tell you who it is. He never answered me but he changed his tune after a while. I think he changed his tune really because Teddy changed his tune. But it was interesting.

You see, people were piling on Teddy at that time. It was so easy to take this incredible enthusiasm that they had for him at one time and for the Kennedy family, and to create a horror story out of what was so positive before. There is something about human nature that people like to do that. They like to see people fail. They like to see people hurt and descend from a height of glory.

Young

Especially if they’ve been up here.

Tunney

That’s right, from the height of glory, down into the depths of despair. I mean, there’s something about the Homo sapiens animal that loves that. The German word Schadenfreude is a wonderful word, because that’s what it is. It’s a love of seeing somebody else get it. There was a lot of that with Teddy during that period, where he had been so high and then he was going down. They were ready to put the spurs into him and pitchforks and all the other stuff. And then, of course, it turned around and I, as one observer—and I’m a pretty close observer—I think that Vicki had a huge amount to do with it as a catalyst. It’s not that she changed him, but she was the catalyst for change within himself. That was what really did it. He changed himself. The ability to do that is quite extraordinary, when you stop to think about it. I don’t know very many people in history who have been able to do that. I’m trying to think of one, but I can’t think of one who has been able to do it the way he did it in his life.

Young

Yes.

Tunney

I’m very proud of him for doing it, for being able to do it, and very respectful of it.

Young

And the press changed too after ’94.

Tunney

Well, it did.

Young

I’m looking back at all the New York Times, everything. Suddenly, there’s—he’s got a lot of good press, in ’95, ’96, ’97. Teddy’s back! They didn’t put it that way, but that’s what they were saying.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

Look what he has gotten done.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

In the days of the Contract with America, all of that, and all the [William] Clinton stuff. That high, or that esteem or respect, more or less continues right up to the end.

Tunney

Of course, true. And justifiably so.

Young

Yes.

Tunney

And justifiably so because he continued to steer on that course to the North Star, and he did not deviate or change or diminish his output in any way. That is because I think he had at last integrated his wonderful human qualities, all the things that we’ve talked about, his generosity, his empathy, his good fellowship, his sense of humor, all of those wonderful qualities that were a part of his character, he was able to blend those together with his public life and his dedication to the ideals that motivated his public life. And that made him a powerhouse.

Young

Well, the outstanding impression, when all is said and done, is the man’s humanity.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

The downsides were part of that too.

Tunney

With all of us.

Young

Yes.

Tunney

But most of us don’t have as much publicity as he had.

Young

Well, that’s right. But in a sense, I suppose you become a thing when you become a public figure. You become a kind of commodity that people read into, make what they want.

Tunney

That’s right, but you see, I always used to feel that if you couldn’t walk a little bit on the wild side, it was going to be very difficult for you to understand, as a political figure, the character of your people, because human beings have the positive and the negative energy, they have the good and the bad deeds, and everybody has them. Some have less than others, but not everybody is saintlike. Everybody has certain elements of their personality that are not as good as other elements. If you can blend, as Ted did at the end of his life, an incredible work ethic, with a fabulous capacity to convince other people of the need to pass what I would call humanistically inclined legislation, with a very strong personal life where there’s nothing in your personal life that is dragging down your public idealism, it’s the harmony that gives the strength to the projection and to the direction of the man.

Young

And the work is not an escape from the bad, it’s fulfillment.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

A continuing fulfillment.

Tunney

That’s right.

Young

When you’ve got it all together.

Tunney

That’s right. No, I think that’s right. 

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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